Area drummer Greg Schramm has played drums with some of the best Americana/Roots acts in Greater Cincinnati, formerly with Magnolia Mountain and Stardevils and currently with The Sidecars and The Tammy WhyNots. But last year, like Phil Collins and Dave Grohl before him, Schramm proved himself to be more than “just” a beat-keeper. Greetings From …, the debut album by his group Tex Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys, showed Schramm to be a damn fine songwriter and band leader, too.
Saturday at the Southgate House Revival (southgatehouse.com), Schramm shows his debut full-length wasn’t a fluke, releasing the Cowboys’ sophomore album, Lucky Chaps. The 9 p.m. release party will also feature sets by The Kentucky Struts, Mack West and Johnny Berry and the Outliers .
The notable groups with which Schramm plays and has played might all be considered “Americana,” but each performs various strains of Roots “subgenres,” from Western Swing and Trad Country to Honky Tonk and beyond. Lucky Chaps mirrors Schramm’s band experience — it’s Classic Country-inspired Americana at its core, but the album also has elements of early Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Western Swing, Alt Country and other forms sprinkled throughout.
Vocally, Schramm’s endearing, hiccup-ready vocals guide the band through highlight cuts like “Baby, Baby Come Back,” which is threaded with stellar guitar leads from local area music legend David Rhodes Brown, the tear-in-beer ballad “Put the Glass To My Lips,” with its weeping violin, pedal steel and tight harmonies recalling The Mavericks circa What A Crying Shame, the Rockabilly-rumbling “Freight Train” and the honky-tonkin’ “Merry-Go-Round,” which struts on Todd Hepburn’s rollicking piano saunter.
With Lucky Chaps, Schramm and Co. have created the natural sequel to their debut. Once again presenting an endearing and endlessly entertaining hodgepodge of musical twang, the main difference between the two full-lengths is stronger songwriting and a more evident cohesiveness, no doubt the result of Schramm and the Radio King Cowboys’ growing confidence and experience. (reverbnation.com/gregtexschramm)
‘Modern’ Songs, ‘Vintage’ Heart
Early last month, local Pop/Rock masters The Newbeeswere scheduled to host a release party for their fourth long-player, Modern Vintage . The show was to be the second ever at the Southgate House Revival , but the Newport club had code issues that delayed the opening for a week.
Better late than never, The Newbees return to the Southgate House Revival for a Wednesday/Thanksgiving Eve celebration of their latest effort. The show will feature music on all three stages; special guests are Sundae Drives, Les Whorenettes , Shiny Old Soul , Dave Hawkins , See You in the Funnies , Honey & Houston , Chaselounge and The Turkeys . Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance through ticketfly.com or $12 at the door.
Modern Vintage would be a great title for any album by The Newbees. On the new LP, the skills and songwriting exhibited by the group members, including multiple vocalists and songwriters, combine for a collection of rich, dynamic songs that seem informed by the entirety of contemporary music history (at least the melodic stuff). The songcraft of The Newbees is impeccable and Modern Vintage contains several of the band’s best tunes yet.
Good songwriting can stand alone, but another of The Newbees’ assets is their arrangement talent. On Modern Vintage, the members — all studio-musician-worth instrumentalists — augment tracks with perfectly placed strings and horns, prominent keys, flawless vocals harmonies and other auxiliary instrumentation. Great production also gives Modern Vintage a warm, analog feel.
Like The Beatles, The Newbies have an innate knack for memorable melody, are supernaturally effective songwriters and are unafraid to use whatever tools necessary to serve the song best, regardless of the genre. Husband/wife Newbees founders Jeff (a wildly impressive guitarist as well as songwriter) and Misty Perholtz switch off on lead vocals, which gives even more variety to Modern Vintage. And it’s to the group’s credit that the eclecticism is never jarring, as the album rolls fluidly from a standout track like “Nevermore,” a swaying Soul ballad that you might mistake for a lost Aretha Franklin cut, to “Don’t Knock It (’Til You Try It),” which sounds like a mix of Lyle Lovett and The Band, to the Soft Rock sunset-fade of “Goodbye Sun.”
Opener “Medicine Show” is a simpler, uncluttered Indie Pop nugget that Imperial Teen could have written and buoyant rocker “Up All Night” has the Power Pop pep of early Elvis Costello. Elsewhere, the acoustic “Hallowed” has a campfire Gospel sing-a-long lilt and hopeful closer “Find” ends the album on a note of sublime acoustic grace, lightly enhanced with low-key synth and swelling orchestral strings.
Modern Vintage is just another way of saying “timeless,” which makes it an even better fit as this Newbees gem’s title. (thenewbees.com)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected] , @CityBeatMusic on Twitter or on Facebook here .